Words of a true chief who knew his men. Always to go after what he wanted was the basic characteristic of Guynemer. And now various details concerning the combat came one by one to light. Guerder had been half out of the machine to have the machine-gun ready to hand. When the gun jammed, Georges yelled to his comrade how to release it. Guerder, who had picked up his rifle, laid it down, executed the maneuver indicated by Guynemer, and resumed his machine-gun fire. This episode lasted two minutes during which Georges maintained the airplane under the Aviatik, unwilling to change his position, as he saw that a recoil would expose them to the Boche’s gun.
Meanwhile Vedrines came in search of the victor, and piloted the machine back to head-quarters, with Guynemer on board seated on the body and quivering with joy.
With this very first victory Guynemer sealed his friendship with the infantry, whom his youthful audacity had comforted in their trenches. He received the following letter, dated July 20, 1915:
commanding the 238th Infantry, to
Corporal Pilot Guynemer and Mechanician Guerder of Escadrille M.S.
3, at Vauciennes.
The whole Regiment,
Having witnessed the aerial attack you made upon a German Aviatik over their trenches, spontaneously applauded your victory which terminated in the vertical fall of your adversary. They offer you their warmest congratulations, and share the joy you must have felt in achieving so brilliant a success. Maillard.
On July 21 the Military Medal was given to the two victors, Guynemer’s being accompanied by the following mention: “Corporal Guynemer: a pilot full of spirit and audacity, volunteering for the most dangerous missions. After a hot pursuit, gave battle to a German airplane, which ended in the burning and destruction of the latter.” The decoration was bestowed on August 4 at Vauciennes by General Dubois, then in command of the Sixth Army, and in presence of his father, who had been sent for. Then Guynemer paid for his newly won glory by a few days of fever.
II. FROM THE AISNE TO VERDUN
Guynemer’s first victory occurred on July 19, 1915, and for his second he had to wait nearly six months. This was not because he had not been on the watch. He would have been glad to mount a Nieuport, but, after all, he had had his Boche, and at that time the exploit was exceptional: he had to be patient, and give his comrades a chance to do the same.
When finally he obtained the longed-for Nieuport, he flew sixteen hours in five days, and naturally went to parade himself over Compiegne. Without this dedication to his home, the machine would never be consecrated.